As the 2010s are about to end and we’re in for a new decade, I wanted to commemorate one of the most important shifts that the past decade has seen.
Our society has moved on from the teenagers wallowing in self-hate and distaste for life to a generation of teens encouraging each other to accept themselves as who we are, and love ourselves unconditionally. Taking pride in who you are and what you want to become has turned into something that’s no longer narcissistic or shameful.
Yet loving yourself comes with a price tag.
Even though self-love is a widely discussed topic from musicians singing about loving yourself to models in all shapes and sizes taking the industry by storm, all the abundance of self-love still doesn’t hide all the insecurities you might have and just ends up feeding them.
With the exponential rise of social media over the past decade, brands and individuals have jumped on the bandwagon of loving yourself. There’s nothing bad about spreading the message of an important cause, but when it becomes a marketing ploy to attack insecure individuals for money, that’s when it becomes a problem. A huge problem.
Advertising, especially on social media, highlights the insecurities of these unsure individuals (I know because I am one of them) and makes you much more likely to buy a product to momentarily revive those insecurities, only to later realize nothing has changed. So, you buy something else and the cycle continues.
I often find myself buying things to make myself pretend to be a better version of myself. When that euphoria of swiping my credit card and the feeling of newness wears off, I wonder if I really needed both the Princess Leia and Khaleesi costumes for the same Halloween. Or if my lips will actually benefit from the $24 lip balm that BTS has also used. At that moment I feel like I am a better version of myself when, in fact, nothing has changed — I’m just $24 poorer.
The weight loss and diet control industry used to be a good example of feeding into insecurities. This market is now worth $72 billion in the U.S., according to Business Wire. But the diet market is not as relevant in 2019 as it has been in past years, with the numbers of dieters falling and Instagram banning the advertising of “miracle” diet products. But banning the advertising of diet products on Instagram doesn’t stop advertisements from attacking other beauty-related insecurities.
The skincare boom feeds directly into the insecurities of young teens and, consequently, makes them aware of their imperfect, yet normal, skin. I often wonder if I would have been so critical about pimples and blackheads (and that painful acne) on my face if I hadn’t been spending most of my youth on YouTube watching skincare videos of girls slathering 10 products of liquids on their clear, perfect faces. If skincare wasn’t such a big part of the beauty industry, we surely would see imperfections differently.
There’s obviously the feeling of being pampered in skincare. Doing a face mask and putting on thick night cream on your face can make you feel better from the inside out, but when it becomes almost a duty to keep your appearance up to par — where even one small pimple or blackhead will ruin your day — that’s where I become skeptical.
Not everyone can afford to keep up with a lifestyle that requires buying new things to keep up appearances. Not having clear skin or the newest clothing doesn’t make someone a lesser person, or less capable of being a decent human being. It becomes much harder to be okay with yourself when you can’t keep up with your peers’ materialism. It’s hard to love yourself as-is when we focus so much on material possessions and bettering ourselves by using money as a society.
We even partially build our personas on possessions — I introduced myself on TSL as the girl who is always wearing her (expensive) polka-dotted dress from Reformation. I must admit that I feel like I’m a slightly better person for owning that dress, yet I know it’s such a silly way of thinking.
I should be the one with the nice smile or the loud laugh, that way I would still be that person 20 years from now. When that dress eventually breaks or becomes untrendy, will I also become untrendy? Most likely not, but I will feel that I am for a moment. My laugh doesn’t cost me anything, and I will most likely have it until the day I kick the bucket. I think that would be a much better way of describing myself; I am not the things I own nor the money I have.
So I encourage you to love yourself, not for the things you own or the number in your account but for your dreams and your thoughts, and all the things that make you you without a price tag.
Ottilia Nummelin is a Pitzer College exchange student who is a Finn from Luxembourg. She would like to thank BTS for making her realize her true potential but also for making a dent in her bank account.